Acts 17:26 “From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands.”
Athens was one of the most influential city-states of ancient Greece. Named after the goddess Athena, the very invention of democracy arose from this people. The Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Agora all decorated this glorious city that 500 years earlier had been known for its theater as well as being a hub of cultural, political, and military might.
When Paul arrived in 51 A.D., the luster had worn off and this once great city was but a shadow of its former self. Having risen into an imperial city, Athens was known for other notables that precluded Paul including Thucydides and Herodotus, famous historians, Hippocrates, the patron saint of the medical profession, and Socrates, the philosopher.
It’s important to understand the history and perspective of a people when addressing them. Without speaking to their condition or understanding from where they’ve come, the message can miss the mark.
Boundaries were a big issue for city-states. A city–state was an independent sovereign city which served as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. A modern day city-state would be the Vatican, in Rome. These territories were renowned throughout the world for thousands of years and the power struggles that accompanied these forms of life created much upheaval.
Acts 17:30-31 “Although God overlooked the ignorance of earlier times, He now commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”
This disorder and chaos of man is confronted by the order and boundaries of God.
The athenians as well as every other person in the world had a clear understanding for the necessity of boundaries. It was clear that without a boundary being clearly marked and established in power, it would be broached by an invading army soon enough.
The establishment of our boundaries is something that is easy to miss when they are spiritually inclined. Just like a people in a given city-state may encroach upon an ill defined border if not properly marked, we might also offend a spiritual boundary unless it is defined.
God’s defined Boundaries
- You Shall have no other gods before Me. The athenians were renowned for idolatry, Athena, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus were the major deities of the Greek Pantheon. Had these false gods helped the Greeks? Historically, the One true God had been forsaken among their people and the destruction of this city showed its negligence for honoring the Lord as their deliverer.
- You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Not only did the idolatry of Greece bring with it destruction, it encouraged the judgement of God upon their people. Worship of anything or anyone other the Creator is giving allegiance to demonic worship of idols made by man. It is a form of pride to lay claim to a deity that is contrived than to be subjected to God who is Sovereign.
The spiritual boundaries that God has ordained is His moral law. It is fixed and those who broach it have a death sentence on their heads. This standard of righteousness is one that not only directs people to the Throne of God, it gives freedom from the destructive heresies this world contrives. The beauty of God’s law is that it eventually leads to Jesus. He is the One who will ultimately bring peace.
What boundaries have you placed in your life?
The means by which we make these markers is reflective of the core of our belief system. If the boundary markers or also known as principles by which you live are founded in God’s Word, your path will be blessed. If you have established principles that are grown out of worldly philosophy, then the very sin of the athenians is being renewed all over again in you.
Proverbs 15:25 “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud, But He will establish the boundary of the widow.”
To those who are weak, the Lord becomes their strength. The widow isn’t the only one the Lord cares for, she is just a type cast of a person who has been left vulnerable. It is to those who humble themselves under God’s mighty strength are those who receive His power. He establishes our boundaries and none shall cross them without His approval.
Proverbs 12:7 “The wicked are overthrown and perish, but the house of the righteous will stand.”
The continuous attack, defend, overthrow, counterattack….these were the existences of those who lived in the city-states of old. We are under a continuous spiritual attack today. The Kingdom of God is the spiritual city-state today, it is the one that will be established as the imperial city of the New Jerusalem in the days to come.
The strength of our city is founded in our King.
The Lord reigns now and it is His seat of power that will be evident to all in the future.
Whether it was Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, or any other great thinker in history. These men may have missed the mark as to who God truly was but they still recognized the need to carefully consider your ways.
Where have you placed your hope? By what measure do you live your life?
These questions I ask in regularity are ones I must ask myself. It is so easy to get distracted by the enticements of this world. It is far too easy to succumb to the rigors of life, temptations that surround us, and weakness of the flesh. If we are to be vigilant in our walk as testimonies of God’s light, we must remind ourselves what we are living for continually.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
This is our standard……
This is what we live by…
This is how we succeed..